GIG: Argent (with support from Curved Air & Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash)
DATE: Monday 13th December 2010
VENUE: HMV Forum, Kentish Town, London
COST: £22.50 (plus 3.25 booking fee per ticket!)
RATING: I Do Believe In Miracles

Way back in 1972, a young freckle-faced 16 year old began his life-long love of watching live bands when he went with his mates to Greens Playhouse in Glasgow (later known rather more famously as the Apollo) to see Argent. And he was smitten!

Thousands of gigs, and 38 years later, that same boy, for it was The Beeb, was on his way to the HMV Forum in Kentish Town, London, to see Argent again. He wasn’t worried about the gig being a let down, because he’d seen Rod and Jim many times before with The Zombies and knew how good they were. A charity gig a couple of years ago where Russ Ballard was MD also proved the Shaded One still had “IT.”

We arrived at the venue just in time to hear the last couple of songs from Curved Air. The Beeb remembers having a poster of singer Sonja Kristina on his bedroom wall as a teenager. What we did hear sounded as if it wasn’t too bad. Sonja’s voice and hair still sounded and looked great though,

I thought seeing last weeks middle-aged Mods at the Paul Weller gig was an eye opener, but having a look around during the break here convinced me that old hippies never die...they just grey away! I can’t remember the last time I saw an ELP T-shirt and so much long hair. Still, you knew this was a crowd that liked good music too!

Martin Turner
Next up was Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash. Another favourite band from The Beeb’s youth. There have been a lot of personnel squabbling over the years between band members, and to be honest we don’t know the politics behind it all. But seeing as we’re both big Beach Boys fans, we know how these things can be. So we came with an open mind just to hear the music.

The band came on with Martin looking a bit rock starry in his leather trousers and long white Nudie type shirt. “Argus” is what the words “Classic Album” were put together for, and the band played four songs in a row from it to start the set. “The King Will Come,” “The Warrior,” “Throw Down The Sword” and, as Martin described it, the happier “Blowing Free.”

We also got another classic in “Jailbait.” The famed Wishbone Ash twin lead guitar was expertly shown when the two guitarists played each others guitars at the same time! It was nice how Martin slipped into the background to let the guitarists do their showmanship bit.

At the end during the band introductions, we got a bit of “Jingle Bells, “a short drum solo and guitarist Danny Wilson introducing Martin in a faux Spanish (Mexican?) accent for some reason. This was when we realised Danny played with Minty’s old favourites, Showaddywaddy when we saw them at The Stables. She cornered him afterwards for a chat and he was very gracious.

Having come with open minds, it has to be said Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash are a class act. Great song and great harmonies, plus entertaining to watch. Although the set was old classics, we think we’ll have to check out some of Martin’s newer stuff because he’s obviously a great songwriter.

The speed of the turn around of the bands actually caught us on the hop. While chatting to Danny and Martin the next thing we knew Argent had walked on to the stage.
Luckily we had great seats, three rows from the front and smack bang in the middle.

Russ Ballard
As The Beeb drooled at Russ’s Strat and Marshall stack, the first thing Minty said was “Oh, he looks fit!” It has to be said, Russ could easily pass for someone half his age. They opened up with the start of “The Coming Of Kohoutek,” the first track on the last Argent album Russ played on. Then we got “It’s Only Money” parts one and two before Rod went into “Keep On Rollin.”
Minty was particularly impressed by Bob drumming on “Dance Of Ages,” as well as Russ’s vocals on “Be Free.” There was some great bluesy guitar on “Sweet Mary,” before the crowd started a sing-a-long with Rod’s old Zombies hit, “She’s Not There.”

At this point Colin Blunstone was pointed out in the audience, before Russ took over the keyboards to perform a beautiful version of the song he wrote, and Colin had the big hit with, “I Don’t Believe In Miracles.” This is a personal favourite of The Beeb’s, and thought it was worth the near forty year wait for this one alone!

The HMV Forum really started to rock when, after Russ played an Irish jig, the band went into “Since You’ve Been Gone.” He even managed to somehow work the intro into the lead break during the song! The place was jumping by this time. And what better number to end with but, “Hold Your Head Up.” Always a favourite when Rod and Colin play together, this song is timeless.

Rod Argent
Of course there was an encore, and that was “God Gave Rock And Roll To You.” The perfect one to end on. There was another great crowd sing-a-long with this. By this time Russ had his famous old Fender with the holes in it, and he did his trick of throwing it up in the air and almost firing it out to the audience too.

Russ Ballard
This may have been a bit of a trip down memory lane for The Beeb, but without a doubt this was a band that seemed glad to be playing together today. Who knows, maybe they could get back together sometime in a studio. We can’t wait another 38 years for that to happen though.

That wasn’t the end of the excitement for us tonight though. It was nearly midnight, and on the way home we were pulled over by the police just as we reached the house. Blue lights flashing and everything. They were just checking the car wasn’t stolen. Amazingly they already had our details before stopping us, so we were OK. Thank god they didn’t check the boot!!!

The Beeb after the gig, clutching the Set List!


GIG: The Flaming Cortinas
DATE: Saturday 11th December 2010
VENUE: British Legion, Croxley Green, Watford, Herts
COST: freebie
RATING: Flaming Groovy

This time it is Minty reviewing The Beeb, as he appears with The Flaming Cortinas for their 2nd ever gig with this line-up. The band are a four piece who do 60’s and 70’s covers.

Dressed all in black, with fluorescent ties, the 4 piece takes to their stage and kick off with “Old Time Rock and Roll”. Their 1st set takes you through a bit of Santana and “Black Magic Woman” (with a guest on vocals – I think he is a member of another local band), and amongst others, John Lennon’s “Ballad Of John and Yoko”, T-Rex, Free and The Beatles being “Back in The USSR”. Some people were still wandering into the hall when they did a fantastic rendition of Badfinger’s “No Matter What” and you could see them giving a second look and “strutting” to their tables, singing along. The 1st set was rounded off with a bit of the Big O singing about his “Pretty Woman”. All members of the band, (Mark, Clive, Steve and of course The Beeb) share lead vocals which gave a great mix of voices and fitted the songs in the set just fine.

When The Flaming Cortinas started playing, with the venue being a club, rather than a music venue, most of the audience, who had only just arrived and were seated towards the back, generated an awful lot of background noise as everyone caught up with everyone else’s business. That kind of background buzz can be quite annoying when you are trying to listen to a band play, and it brought back memories of the notices up at London’ Luminere club telling the audience to go outside if they want to talk!!! If only.....

Even the raffle and auction in the interval was hard going, as everyone seemed to ignore the proceedings and carry on with their chatter! It was a wonder that £1,000 was actually raised!

The 2nd set seemed to get more attention, and even had some people up dancing and jiving. Included in the this set, alongside a bit of Bowie’s “Man Who Sold The World” and The Rolling Stones “Jumping Jack Flash”, was a Rock and Roll mix of “Rock Around The Clock”, “Oh Boy”, “Hippy, Hippy Shake” and a rather tremendous version of “Twist and Shout”.

“Living Next Door To Alice” was a bit of a highlight. This is a song not normally found in a covers band’s set and I don’t think the drummer, Clive, heard the back of the room singing along with the alternate version because he gave up on the official version and sang the “naughty” bit instead!!!

The night ended with a medley of “Money” and “Mony, Mony” which went down very well and sounded good and rounded off with the “Hokey Cokey” complete with the dance that accompanies it!!!!

So for a 2nd gig, this was not bad at all. The lighting was not great, so the video I shot had loads of shadow, and considering there was just a basic PA system, they sounded rather good.


GIG: Paul Weller
DATE: Saturday 4th December 2010
VENUE: SECC, Glasgow
COST: a small fortune but well worth it!
RATING: That WAS Entertainment

(Just The Beeb reporting on this one)

The last time I saw Paul Weller was in 1977, when The Jam played their first ever gig in Glasgow. That was in a tiny little club where the band had to stop playing a few times because the P.A. system kept threatening to topple over because the crowd was so energetic and up-close. 33 years later, having followed and enjoyed his oeuvre, I got to see him for the first time since. Strangely enough, back in Glasgow again. This time it was in the rather larger venue of the 12,000 capacity SECC.

It was funny seeing all those people, many of whom I’d imagine would have been safety-pin faces teenagers the last time I saw him, strolling into the SECC looking so middle aged. I bet lots of them also went to see Michael Buble recently too!

The fact that the gig was actually ON in the first place was a bit of a relief, because the next night’s gig in Aberdeen had already been called off due to the worst weather in Scotland for 50 years.

Paul took to the stage looking his usual cool self and started off the set with the title track from his new album, “Wake Up The Nation.” Straight away we knew this was a band that were going to enjoy what they were going to play. This was the case as they proceeded to play the title track from the LAST album, “22 Dreams.”

His new songs are amongst the best he’s ever done, but the excitement level did rise when he then went into the old Jam classic, “Eton Rifles.” After a further mixture of Jam and solo songs, including “Strange Town” and “From The Floorboards Up,” we were treated to the real psychedelic experience of a five track suite from “22 Dreams.” This was just amazing. What a masterpiece this is, and to hear it being done live brought home how good Paul’s band are. Steve Craddock and Paul both work really well together on guitars, and I enjoyed being geeky and taking in all the guitar changes they both made.

After a nod to the very under-rated Style Council (Shout To The Top) a few more new songs then led into “Pretty Green” and “Start” from The Jam. “Echoes Round The Sun” finished the first set.

When the band came back they went into more psychedelic magic in the shape of “Andromeda.” I just LOVE this stuff! A couple more songs and then we had the second encore.

This was to take us right back to the very start of his career with a powerful version of “Art School,” and the very last song was an electric version of “That’s Entertainment.” I was quite pleased with the whole gig, but my daughter was up in arms because he didn’t do “A Town Called Malice.” I had to remind her he had hundreds of songs to choose from, and he had to leave a load of classics out.

On the way out I couldn’t believe crowds of people were singing “We are the Mods.” Well it made us laugh! A top gig from a top bloke live.


GIG: The Beatles Experience, Jay McGee & Matt+Duncan+Christie
DATE: Friday 26th / Saturday 27th November 2010
VENUE: Hoburn Naish Holiday Park, New Milton
COST: shared cost of a Lodge, with the entertainment included
RATING: Not such a breakdown afterall

The annual Girls Weekend away (Minty only on this one) kicked off Friday afternoon, with a surprisingly quick drive down to the South Coast, to New Milton’s Hoburn Naish Holiday Park.
Venturing out of the Lodge in the snow flurry that evening, we dined in the “pub” area, and then headed into the entertainment lounge where we found a spare table in a corner and caught “Ticket To Ride”, the last song from the 1st set of “The Beatles Experience” – yep, you’ve guessed it, a Beatles tribute band.

The Beatles Experience
Their 2nd set was late 60’s Beatles material, kicking off with “Help!” and progressing through “Taxman”, “Nowhere Man”, “All You Need Is Love” and “We Can Work It Out” (which was apparently No1 on Mary’s birthday) to name just a few. Not sure if the guys were actually from Liverpool, or if their scouse accents were put on, but they sounded and looked like the Beatles.

Their final (planned) song was “Hey Jude”, a song I always associate with the Queens Golden Jubilee concert when this song went on forever as the TV cameras panned both the throngs of people in the Mall and the mass of artists on the stage at Buckingham Palace!!!

The band did an encore, although they never left the stage! They did get the crowd up and dancing and to be honest, they were not bad at all.

Jay McGee

Night 2 did not quite go according to plan. We were expecting Amen Corner to be on the bill, but as we entered the entertainment lounge the audience were being tickled by a comedian instead.... Jay McGee (from the Rockin Berries) was entertaining everyone as (we were told later), Amen Corner’s Tour Bus had broken down and so they were unable to make the gig. Jay was really quite amusing, with some seriously funny jokes (some quite close to the knuckle) and some great singing (really liked his version of Elvis' American trilogy).

He did meet his match with Mags who was more interested in getting our buckets of wine rather than bantering with him just after we had entered the room and she cut him short to tell him she needed alcohol and walked off to the bar!!!!

The 2nd half of the night’s entertainment was provided by the resident “entertainment managers”, Matt and Duncan, with a bit of help from Christie who had been called up from another holiday camp to help out.

What we got was an hour or so of fun, frolics and really good entertainment without it being the stereotypical holiday camp in-house type of thing, with the guys making a fantastic night out what could have been quite a disaster.

The guys were very funny, mixing jokes, ad-libbing and a bit of singing to keep our minds from the disappointment of Amen Corner’s no show! Christie was a really strong singer, and wore a lovely dress to boot as well.
Matt & Duncan
At the end of the night, we all agreed that we felt we enjoyed their impromptu show more than we would have enjoyed Amen Corner.
Again Mags showed her comedic form, when the guys said they were called “Symbolic” and Mags heckled, “Shambolic, you mean” which had the whole audience in hysterics!!!

A great weekend..... apparently the Rockin Berries are on the bill next year...

Duncan meets The Girls


GIG: The Love Thing – Mari Wilson
DATE: Saturday 6th November 2010
VENUE: The Basement, Leicester Square Theatre, Leicester Place, London
COST: £15.00 plus small booking fee
RATING: An “Elle” of a show

Flyer from the show
 The Basement of Leicester Square Theatre is an intimate setting, where Mari Wilson has been staging her “Love Thing” – a one woman show telling the story of Elle, one time backing singer with Duran Duran. Little over an hour is a short time to tell the story from Elle’s childhood through those heydays of the ‘80’s through to now but Mari does it well, picking each poignant event in Elle’s life, and interspersing the story-telling with some great songs, with her musical partner Adrian York providing the accompaniment on the piano.

It kicks off with the child Elle singing into her orange hairbrush, wearing her Mum’s sling-backs to give her a more “grown up” air, progressing to meeting her “Stage Door Lover” Sean, whilst appearing as backing singer for Duran Duran, then relating Elle’s life through from being “The IT Girl” to the breakdown of her singing career as she gives up opportunities to be with Sean, the birth of Daisy and then the subsequent breakdown of her marriage as she finds out Sean has cheated on her and “time passes slowly when someone is breaking your heart”, after which Adrian tinkles the ivories while Mari disappears back stage, emerging for the next part of the show in a glitzy top and then begins to tell us about the latter part of Elle’s life.

The 2nd half of the show begins with “The Love Thing”, Elle is on the dating game (rather disastrously) and realises she has begun the ageing process. Then after meeting a new man, it dawns on her that he is “Moving In” – but not for long. On her own once more, Elle has started to sing again and now has her own dressing room and then Mari sings the grand finale “I’m Getting There”, a very powerful song, sung with a lot of emotion. It had everyone on their feet at the end – a fab show, so well put together, with highs and lows, laughter and sadness.

The set is simple...... a table, a stool, the piano Adrian York plays and a few props – the orange hairbrush, and a range of phones, including the rather clunky old 80’s mobile phone that cleverly take us through the years as they change throughout the play.

The art of being a great songwriter is having the ability to make a connection with your song to an audience. Having an emotional spark that touches others. Mari does this so well with her songs. You don’t have to be a cheated woman to feel the optimism of a great song like “Getting There.”

We feel all kinds of emotions on this journey with Elle, immersed with songs that are happy, sad, funny, poignant and a lullaby that only a loving mother could have written.

This play/musical drama has a lot going for it. The possibilities are endless. Not only does it work live, but someone with sense and the know-how should make this a TV programme or a movie. It’s that good.

The gang meet Mari and Adrian after the show


GIG: Nils Lofgren Acoustic Duo
DATE: Saturday 16th October 2010
VENUE: The Stables, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton Keynes, MK17 8LU
COST: £28.50 plus small booking fee
RATING: Shined, not so silently

The Stables was full and just after 8pm, the lights went up on the stage to reveal Greg Varlotta on keyboards and Nils behind an electric harp. What we were treated to from that point on, for the next 2 hours and 20 minutes (no interval) was pure class.

Alongside us, in the 3rd row, were 3 brothers from Glasgow, one of which had seen the opening night to Nils’ tour, in Basingstoke and all 3 were heading up to Glasgow to see the same show the following week. It was so obvious they loved the man, and were true fans, singing along, giving standing ovations and making the most noise in the crowd! Having said that, the rest of the audience made an awful lot of noise too, especially following Nils’ terrific virtuoso guitar solos which also had the audience on their feet to show their appreciation of such a great performance.

In the 2 hours and 20 minutes, the guy was so cool he never broke a sweat, and treated us to his back catalogue, a new song in tribute to Ray Charles, and some Neil Young songs. Greg really is a multi-instrumentalist, stepping from the keyboards to play trumpet and also guitar at points during the show. Before they left the stage, our ears were really indulged with a fantastic rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Because the Night”.

It was hard to believe that such a full sound could emanate from just 2 men. Technology did help, with a looper to keep the guitar track going while Nils performed some incredible finger work (and while he had a sip of tea), the keyboards at one stage sounded like there was a choir humming along in the background, and during “Because the Night” we could hear a drum beat.

One of the biggest cheers of the night was when Greg tap danced a drum beat, while Nils played the guitar, and an even bigger cheer when during the encore, Nils joined him in a bit of a toe tapping session. He was really light on his feet and was a natural mover. The Beeb wondered at what point of rehearsals did the thought come to themselves “Oh, a bit of tap dancing would go down well here!!!”

After such a long show, Nils was very generous with his time and came out to meet the fans afterwards. He really did come across as a very humble man, grateful for all that he’s achieved in life.
We’ve been to the Stables many times before, but never to a performance that has not had an interval. Many in the audience found it hard to stay put for the full show... disappearing off for more beer, or a loo break (one lady went 4 times!!).

Minty hasn’t commented on the facilities for a while – the queues for the ladies were endless at the end of the night which also meant that the loos didn’t flush! They can’t cope with heavy turnover!!!

The Beeb and Nils, after the show

The Beeb and GregVarlotta after the show


GIG: Little Shop Of Horrors
DATE: Saturday 2nd October 2010
VENUE: Winston Churchill Hall, Pinn Way, Ruislip
COST: £14 plus booking fee
RATING: We could have been watching a West End production

Going to see Little Shop Of Horrors”, performed by the Ruislip Operatic Society, came about from a quick corridor conversation Minty had with a work colleague who was in the production (she was playing Chiffon).

The theatre for the Saturday matinee was about two thirds full, so a credible turn out. Right on time, the lights dimmed as the drum roll began and we were treated to a fantastic performance. Unfortunately we didn’t get a programme so we can’t name the individuals, but all of the cast were in fine voice, all had slick New York accents, dressed the part and the music (as performed by the guys in the “pit”) was great.

The actual set was very well put together. “AudreyII” the blood-thirsty “star” of the show looked great too. In fact when one of the actors was snapped up and eaten whole, some of the audience may have had to change their underwear!
It was hard to believe that these guys are enthusiasts who aren’t professional actors/performers, because if you saw the show on London’s West End with RADA actors, you would be hard pushed to find the differences!

A nice touch at the end, when the cast were taking their bows, was that the guy who was “the voice” of Audrey II, and the puppeteers had their chance to take their own bows, each wearing a t-shirt with the Little Shop of Horrors logo design, and their parts printed on them!

The downside was the fact that when you booked the tickets on-line you had no choice of where you sat. All you got was an email confirming your booking, and the tickets were just given to us on arrival at the Hall.


GIG: Blochestra
DATE: Sunday 22nd August 2010
VENUE: Bloc Bar, 117 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 2SZ
COST: free
RATING: Beautifully Orchestrated

We were in Glasgow for a weekend with no plans regarding what we would do gig wise. After a browse through what was happening we had a choice between an Alex Harvey tribute band in The Scotia, four bands in the 13th Note bar or a conglomerate of musicians in Bloc bar.

Bloc bar won out. For the past X amount of weeks a group of musicians have got together to learn two songs a week with the intention of doing a gig in the bar. After a month they have 8 to 10 songs that they will do a gig with. The quirkier the instruments the better.

So we had a stand up bass, ukuleles, violins, glockenspiel, guitars, keyboards and various other instruments taking part in the proceedings.

We happened to nip in earlier in the day to find out tonight was the culmination of the past few weeks rehearsing.

The evening started when all the musicians came back from the various pubs they’d been to during the day and done an A cappella song outside the bar, that sounded great.

First song of the night on the official gig was a Surfjam Stevens song. We’re not well acquainted with the Jamster, but the passion and verve in this performance was enough to make us want to see what he was all about.
Then came Live And Let Die, introduced as a Guns and Roses number. Not sure if that was irony or an age thing. Didn’t they know it was a McCartney song?

The set was filled with gems like the Fleet Foxes “Mykonos,” Talking Heads “Road To Nowhere” and even Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”

The pub itself was jam packed, no doubt by a lot of friends of the musicians, but the thing was, it was a great gig. There was a lot of enthusiasm about the whole venture and it really was a great idea that worked brilliantly.

A notice went up on the wall for anyone who wants to take part in the next venture, and if it hadn’t been 400 miles from Hemel Hempstead The Beeb would have signed up on the spot!


GIG: Aldo Cruickshank
DATE: Saturday 21st August 2010
VENUE: The Griffin, Bath Street, Glasgow
COST: £6
RATING: Listen To The Band (Please)

It’s been a good few years since The Beeb had a drink in The Griffin pub in Glasgow. So to help relive his youth we decided to pop in and see what was on offer gig wise this Saturday night.
The pub hasn’t changed much in the intervening years. It has a big horseshoe bar with a room in the back for the live music.

First up tonight was a guy called Kenny Macdonald, who, for some reason, calls himself “Les Johnson and Me.”

He has a very distinctive voice that lent itself well to his lost highway type of songs. His voice and demeanour was a mixture of Johnny Cash and Jake Thakery if you can imagine it. He had a Taylor guitar that added a bit of quality to the sound.

The sound though was having a constant battle against the background babbling that became really annoying. Why do people pay good money to hear a performer, and then gab all the way through the act? If it had been The Luminaire in London they’d have been booted out onto the street.
Despite that, he put on a well received set.

Next up was the turn advertised with the word “jangle” in the blurb. Aldo Cruickshank came on stage with his band which also included the woman who had actually been doing most of the annoying babbling earlier, and even thanked Les Johnson & Me for opening the night (a bit of a cheek we thought, considering they never sat quietly to listen to his set)!!

The same woman then managed to blot her copy book further before they even got started. Before anyone had said”Hello, good evening or welcome,” she burned Aldo’s ear with a mercenary “Tell them about the CD!” Now everyone has a duty to ply their wares, but not before a single silver string has been plucked!

With a line up of keyboard, a tabla drum and acoustic guitar it was difficult to find the previously advertised “jangly country pop” in the music. Despite that, and to our annoyance, the woman added to the harmonies with the two guys quite well at times. There was a song called “Beautiful” that had three falsettos that became just a bit too much though. There was no doubting their enjoyment of playing the set either.

Aldo came across as a bit like John Sebastian at times with some of the lines in his songs. An enjoyable enough set, despite his starting off as a bit like a hen-pecked husband!


GIG: Los Pacaminos
DATE: Sunday 27th June 2010
VENUE: St Albans Festival, St Peter’s Street, St Albans, Herts
COST: free
RATING: A bit of a scorcher

The sun really was merciless as we experienced a bit of the Tex-Mexicana at the St Alban’s festival with Los Pacaminos, a 7-piece featuring Paul Young and many of members from his previous bands.
Their sound is pure Tex Mex, complete with lap steel guitar and accordion and a bit of formation dancing! Perfect for a scorching day for those who didn’t want to watch the football! Even though there was a big football match on as they were due to play, they did manage to pull in a sizable crowd for the occasion.
Pual Young (Top), Matt Backer (Bottom)

Kicking off with a song about a Highway Patrol Officer (complete with a screaming siren sound, (courtesy of the steel guitar), they blazed through an hour’s set which included classics like “Little Sister” and “Wooly Bully”, a song about Guacamole, another about Enchiladas and the odd bit of “Tequila”! The few songs of their own that they did sounded great too.

Although Paul Young is the most well-known member of the band, there are no egos here, with just about all of the guys taking the lead at some point, and band members wandering around finding any free mic to sing into. It was great to see six guys at the one time all singing along in harmony.
The band members are all seasoned session musicians, each of them with sizable and impressive CVs, but it was evident that they all really enjoy playing this music together. On guitar was Matt Backer, Mari Wilson’s guitarist who was standing in for the Pacaminos regular guitarist and he fitted in perfectly. Well he IS a genuine Southern gent after all.

A great set from a great band on a great day. What more could we ask for on the hottest day of the year?


GIG: Nick Lowe
DATE: Monday 21st June 2010
VENUE: The Stables, Wavendon, Milton Keynes, Bucks
COST: £25
RATING: Definitely the Jesus of Cool


(Sorry folks - no pics as sitting in the front row after the announcement "no photography" would have been plain stupid!)

In 1977, at the height of the punk wars, a strange record started to be heard floating through the airwaves. The Beeb liked “I Love The Sound Of Broken Glass” so much he went out and bought the album…Nick Lowe’s “Jesus Of Cool.”

“ILTSOBG” was so different from the rest of the album. “Broken Glass” was a bit of an oddity, the album was jam-packed with sparkling songs with great hooks and brilliant harmonies, all destined to be smash hits. Except they weren’t!

30 odd years later and Nick Lowe is still writing classic 3 minute pop songs. Big fan that the Beeb is, he’s never seen Nick do a show under his own name, and that is why we are at The Stables tonight.
First up was Geraint Watkins, Nick’s keyboard player for the band. He literally stumbled on stage, tripping over something as he wandered on to play. Then he sat at the keyboard for a minute or two thumbing his way through an old book. This could have been annoying, but it was actually quite funny. It set the tone for what was to be a wonderfully laid back performance by a master of his art.

When he played, he played in a great New Orleans Jazz/R&B style. When he sang, all the way through there was a low, guttural growl underlying what was really a lovely singing voice. Minty thought he looked like he could be the elder brother of Daniel Craig.

He was joined by Martin Winning on a smokey and sultry sax (which looked like it had never seen Brasso in its life!), and the two of them together built a picture of what it must have been like to sit ‘til the wee small hours in a Jazz club in the 40’s. Occasionally, Martin would swap the sax for a clarinet and tease some wonderful music from it. They finished off with a powerful Johnny B Goode. We’ll definitely be looking for his latest album now.

After a short break, Nick wandered onto the stage looking rather like a white haired Eric Morecambe. We were treated to three solo acoustic numbers, including “Heart” before the band joined him.

Nick explained that this show was a rehearsal for his upcoming Glastonbury gig before going on to wow us with a selection of songs from one of the best catalogues anyone in the UK has ever produced.

Highlights included, “I Trained Her To Love Me,” “Love Is A Battlefield” and “You Inspire Me.” When someone asked for “Breaking Glass,” Nick said he was doing us a favour NOT doing it because it was “a rubbish song, but a great record.”

The hits were there though. “Cruel To Be Kind,” proved itself to be a real crowd pleaser. “I Knew The Bride,” and a lovely version of “Peace, Love and Understanding” slowed right down, finished the set on a real high.

For the encore he said he didn’t know whether to do “All Men Are Liars” or “The Beast In Me.” He did them both of course.

Geraint’s light shone again when he did his own song, “Only A Rose,” before the final song, Rockpile’s “When I Write The Book.”

The sound was mixed really well, and we could hear every instrument, although the organ Geraint played could have been just a tad louder. Minty loved the fact that the band included a double bass, as some of the rockabilly styles tunes were really complemented with the slapping of said instrument!

It may have taken a while to see Nick on his own, but it was certainly well worth the wait. Oh, and “I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass” IS a great song!


GIG: Standells
DATE: Saturday 19th June 2010
VENUE: 229, 229 Great Portland Street, London
COST: £22.50 + the usual exorbitant booking fees!
RATING: The Good Guys wore black tonight!


The 229 venue is tucked away just behind Great Portland Tube Station and after finding somewhere to park without the threat of being towed or clamped or ticketed, we got into the venue not long after 8pm. The venue’s website says the doors open at 7pm, and the bands start at 8pm so we figured we would be arriving just as the first band was on stage – Thee Vicars. This was a band that interested The Beeb so imagine how disappointed he was to discover that the band just starting up was King Salami and The Cumberland 3 (the 2nd band on the bill) and the whole thing had actually kicked off at 7.30 so we had missed them.

King Salami and the Cumberland 3 are a pretty good live act, who played a real stonking rhythm & blues and sounded like they would have been right at home, recording in the Sun Studios in the 50’s. You’ll be hard pushed to find a stranger looking line-up. The lead singer, was a black French man who had a great stage personality and you could tell these guys were either a seasoned live act, (or had been practising hard), as they played a pretty fluid set. The guitarist was a tall, skinny Rodney Trotter look –a-like, dressed all in white to match his white guitar. The bass player was a Japanese bloke who jumped around quite a bit, and the drummer looked like he had a great sense of humour, looking like an Egyptian behind the drum kit, with a pair of one lensed sunglasses and a fez! They finished off with what they described as a genuine Bo Diddley effort conceived in Stoke Newington! On the whole we rather enjoyed their set. Check them out on Myspace, and you’ll see they have a fair number of gigs lined up.

For The Standells, the stage was shielded by a large screen, with the scene from the film “Riot on Sunset Strip” leading up to the band’s appearance in the movie being projected onto it. As the band’s playing started on screen, the stage screen began to rise, to reveal the Standells on stage, the video sound was cut and the Standells took over playing “Riot On Sunset Strip” live right on cue!

Early on there was a technical problem as the bass lost power but that was quickly resolved and the band played what can only be described as a blinder of a set which included “Dirty Water”, “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” , “Mr Nobody” and a great cover of “Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go.” The bass player’s microphone was either turned off or was turned down really low, which meant that the harmonica piece on “Dirty Water” wasn’t heard, and on occasions when the vocals switched between Larry Tamblyn on keyboard and Paul Downing on guitar, the mics weren’t at the right level for a lead vocal. But having said that, it was still a fantastic hour of music.

Paul plays guitar in that odd looking Dick Dale style...left-handed, but with the strings strung upside down!

The bass player, John Fleck was introduced to the audience as the only living member of Arthur Lee’s LOVE and they went into the fantastic “My Little Red Book” which had the crowd absolutely jumping. He also came in for a bit of stick from the others in the band when they described just how much drugs he still takes at the intro to “Medication.” We presumed they meant prescribed drugs these days!

The crowd whistled and roared after Scorch (Greg Burnham) on drums did a bit of a solo on one song, and all around us, people were dancing and really enjoying the whole show.

As they finished their set, they left the stage to calls for more, and then Gary Leeds (the Standells original drummer, and later of Walker Brothers fame) came on stage to bring the guys back for an encore. They did 2 more songs and despite more calls for another, when the roadies started to take down mics and dismantle the drum kit, we knew the show had indeed finished and we reluctantly headed for home.

The only original member of the band on stage tonight was Larry Tamblyn, (although John was in the “Riot” movie) but they did play a great set, the audience completely loved it and we were just as thrilled to see their first ever UK show. The timelessness of this music was shown by the age range of the audience. From young students to the band’s peers, and everyone getting off on it.

The guys are recording some interviews and then playing live for some BBC radio shows - they will be on Mark Riley’s BBC6 radio show on 21st June from 7pm (
The 229 venue is a bit of a London nugget. It’s a great venue, stairs leading underground to a series of rooms – one for lounging in, one for dancing to the DJ’s (after the live acts have finished) and then the huge stage area, with a high stage (so you don’t have to stand on tippy-toes and still only see the heads of the band!) which gives the audience a great view.
And as for the loos? Quite presentable, clean and (when Minty went anyway) no long queues!



The Afternoons

Rio Callahan





Mayflowers rocked!


The Modulators

The Lovedays

The Waistcoats

The Beat Rats

Hair in Motion! Paul from the Beat Rats

Ben's Diapers

Sound Engineer - Jim

IPO hosts - David and Rina

GIG: International Pop Overthrow Day 6
DATE: Sunday 30th May 2010
VENUE: Cavern Pub and Cavern Club, Mathew Street, Liverpool
COST: it’s supposed to be all free (although the Club charged from 8pm)
You dirty rats!


First the intro blurb…….International Pop Overthrow, organised by David Bash visits Liverpool every year, and puts on a fantastic free music festival for a whole week in the land of the The Beatles. It attracts Powerpop bands from all over Europe and the rest of the world (including this year, Japan, the USA and Canada). It is impossible to see every one of the bands as 3 stages are on the go simultaneously but we try to see as much as we can. We can’t promise to like all of the bands that play and certainly we will favour some over others, and indeed, some bands we like the sound of after checking them out on Myspace, may not be great performing live (and vice versa for that matter) but in this blog we offer our own personal opinion on the bands and the music we hear.

Sunday lunchtime is not typically a busy period for Liverpool as most people are still sleeping off the effects from the night before! However a decent sized crowd had gathered in the Cavern Pub to see Jeremy ( play. Jeremy is the quintessential king of powerpop who appears at many, many IPOs and has been in Liverpool for as long as we’ve been attending. Unfortunately his flight to the UK was delayed so he missed his first slot from yesterday. Today would (schedule as it stood) be the only chance for us to see him this time around. Jeremy never disappoints any audience and today was no exception. His set did include some covers, such as “You Really Got Me” and “Instant Karma,” but he also had his own tunes going, such as “Pop Rules” which went straight into his surf medley complete with awesome guitar shredding which really grabbed the attention of one group of lads. The reaction of the crowd told us they loved every minute. It was a great set, a fantastic reaction from the crowd and Jeremy even sneaked in a couple of extra songs and extended his set by about 10 minutes (although the sound engineer didn’t pull the plug, so that it must have been OK!). Backing vocals for a couple of numbaers were provided by two of the Swedish contingent, Per and Stefan, both IPO stalwarts.

The next act, over in the Club, was a bit more sedate, Huw Jacob ( a 3 piece band who we caught, only because there were no other bands we had marked down to see. We were pleasantly surprised with their set, which had quite a Crowded House feel to it. All 3 members of the band harmonised very well together and the sound engineer had an easy time of things, as no mixing was really involved. When they needed a bit more oomph, the electric guitarist took the lead, with some lovely guitar playing. Very pleasant tunes indeed. We may have to check them out further.

The next artist was a no show, which then gave the chance for everything to run back on time, after the late start in the Club earlier on, with The Afternoons ( setting up for their slot. We had caught this band a couple of years ago, after noticing the drummer was wearing a T Shirt with “Listen To The Beach Boys” printed on it! We felt they could have done with a bit more backing vocals to really compliment their sound, but on the whole they played a good set of very lazy Sunday afternoon sounding songs. They introduced a new song called (we think) “Wait Till You See Her” which was one of the strongest in their set, and their final number was introduced in Welsh and was really quite bouncy.

We then returned to the Pub where Rio Callahan ( from Glasgow was in the middle of their set. They had a strange mixture of instruments, including a trombone and a trumpet and no drummer (apparently they were not the full band) and the singer really engaged with the audience. We have no idea what their full band sounds like live, but they sounded just fine to us with the line up they had with really strong vocals.

Next up was one of our favourite Scottish acts – Honeybug ( We had already seen these guys in the live Lounge yesterday, and were up for seeing them again. With just keyboards and vocals, they were fighting somewhat against the general background chit chat of a pub with lager louts in it, but once again, they delivered on the lush harmonies which gave each of the stripped down songs such depth and the audience, which was quite large in size, seemed to enjoy it all too. Nice one guys – can’t wait to hear what you’ll treat us with next year!

Honeybug encouraged everyone to stick around for the next act, Mini ( and they were most excellent. The drummer was the main singer, and he had a terrific voice, opening with a really catchy breezy number. The pub was absolutely packed and although Minty would have preferred for them to have done more of their own material, the second half of their set was all covers, ranging from a superb “Jet” with cracking drums on it to the Osmond’s “Crazy Horses” which also went down very well. The Ladybugs were invited on stage to accompany Mini in another couple of songs, “9 to 5” and “Love Shack” which sounded great. They also gave their EP out for free! This is a band we will definitely go and see when we next get the chance.

We took a break to grab something to eat and then spent the rest of the night in the Cavern Club. Only the front stage was hosting the IPO tonight and we saw Eskimo Blonde. They did a straight cover of an ACDC song, which about sums up their style which was not our style at all.

Hijinx ( was a band we had wanted to see, even more so after we found out that David Lloyd from the Suns was in it. We figured their set would be a bit of a blinder, as during the set-up, the sound engineer told the drummer he would just call him “animal” from now on!!! In deed, the drummer could have a drum off with Bluto Mungo from The Beat Rats and it would be a very close competition! They met all of our expectations, although Minty did not expect the bass guitarist to throw his pick at her (he was actually aiming elsewhere so he won’t be asked to play Minty’s netball team!), and played a great set of foot tapping, head bopping catchy tunes which included some nice guitar hooks on the Gibson SG. One of their songs is about Frankenstein, and the crowd sang back the “Hello, Hello” part. One thing we did like was their song “Rock That Feeling” which was included in the set, and then also done as a reprise for the closing song – great closed loop for the audience, as they certainly did rock us.

All the way from Japan, the Mayflowers ( were next up on stage. We had heard that during the week they were busking in Church Street, all plugged into 1 amp and were going down a storm! They actually started 10 minutes ahead of schedule which was quite good because it allowed David Bash to give them not one, but TWO encores. This band was fantastic. They didn’t just rock the Cavern, they sizzled it and almost brought it to meltdown with their electrifying set! Their command of the English language is not very good, and you do wonder how they can write such great songs and sing them in English. It also meant that they did not waste anytime between songs, introducing them, and didn’t just power through their set – they torpedoed through it in the style of the Ramones rocking through the punk days!. Their encores included the Beatles song “I Saw Her Standing There” and for this the 2 guitarists jumped off the stage and performed on the floor in front of the stage, with high kicks and jumps all round! The place was jam packed and everyone seemed to really enjoy this show – indeed it is the first band we have seen David Bash allow to play extra songs, and Rina spent the whole set sitting on the speaker at the front of the stage, loving every moment!

Ulysses ( certainly had a very tough act to follow. Dressed like a rock band in a 70’s comedy film, they were very Thin Lizzy and Jimi Hendrix influenced. We were about to applaud the bass guitarist for wearing his shades on his head as opposed to strutting around in the dark, but then he pulled them down and lost credibility! Their last planned song involved the guitarists standing around a solo drum, madly hitting it along with all the percussion paraphernalia around it (tambourine/cowbell etc) making a sound that even monkeys in a zoo could do! The sound engineer obviously liked this band, as he said they could play one more song – and this was one that did actually sound OK and was a good finish to an otherwise mediocre set.

The Modulators ( were up next and this was the 2nd time we had seen this reformed band from the 80’s New Jersey Powerpop scene. They went down a storm in the Club, and really rocked the place. Their song called “Lies” (we think) was really strong and they seemed to play with a tad more passion than they had yesterday. Minty particularly liked this band, especially as there was no nonsense – they got on stage and played without any gadgets or sound effects and kept things simple while still sounding terrific and knowing their set list so well, they didn’t have to discuss what was going to be sung next. Their songs are very much powerpop and once again, their finale “Spin Me Around” stayed in our heads. It would be nice to have their material from the 80’s re-released and put on CD. It was a joy to see the pride on the faces of the band's wives, as they watched their guys play The Cavern. The boys done good, girls!

Last year we caught the tail end of a band called The Lovedays ( and thought they sounded great so we made the effort to ensure we saw their full set at this year’s festival. And what a cracker it was too! Before they started, the lead singer (who was a cross between Rik Mayall and Jake Shears) gave a great quote, about the IPO “being all about the music, not commerce”, although we did notice they had the most expensive CD on the merch table! We don’t know how long this band has been together, but they knew their set inside out, with no stops or discussion about what was next. Some of their songs were quite bluesy, with a Link Wray hook and one song segued into “Live & Let Die” and then straight into another song immediately after. All were played and sung with tremendous power and passion, and the personality of the lead man really shone through constantly. The bass player was as barmy as ever, seemingly running a half marathon during every gig! They also had the opportunity to do “one more song” and did “John The Revelator”. The end to their set was received with rapturous applause. David Bash summed them up as having “passion that could light up the whole city of Liverpool”. A great band, and a great set. We did consider buying their CD afterwards but at a tenner it was a bit pricey, especially when we had bought so many CD’s by the other bands already!

Next up was a band from the Netherlands called The Waistcoats ( They wore matching suits, which included, you’ve guessed it, waistcoats! They were another band who used a bit of Link Wray in one of their songs, and Rina certainly seemed to enjoy them as she was bopping at the front of the stage! This was another band that didn’t waste any time chit-chatting in between songs, going straight into each number. On the more bluesy numbers, the harmonies really stood out, and overall they were quite a good band. Their last number was a Beatles / Merseybeat influenced and sounded great.

Our night in the Cavern Club finished on a high, as we caught the fourth and final appearance of The Beat Rats ( who commanded the front stage. Still dressed in black leather, they blasted through their set once again treating us to their opener “The Beat Rats Theme” and then through a whole batch of short garage songs which had the club totally rocking. Where these guys get the energy from we don’t know, but we are thankful they had it! Make sure you read the earlier reviews of their gigs. The Beeb thinks this is a band on the edge of some truly great success. We feel privileged to have seen them in such an intimate setting. They have also had great praise for their album, "A Cellar Full Of Rats!" in SHINDIG, and various other hip music mags.

We had one more band to see, and the bouncers let us back into the Cavern Pub for Ben's Diapers ( There were not many people left in the pub at that time of night (well, Monday morning!) but the band still played with a lot of passion and sounded totally fantastic, especially on "Loneliness". This is a very experienced band who write fantastic songs, and sound terrific. After the frenetic pace in the Club, it was really lovely to end our night (and indeed our IPO) listening to this band from Finland.

The stats of our IPO week are: out of the 150 bands (or so) we saw 63 of them... a hit rate of 42%. Of the 63, we saw one band 4 times, one band 3 times and 8 bands twice which makes an overall gig fest of 76!!!

So a big shout out to David Bash and Rina Bardfield whose energy and dedication brings us a week of great music each year. You guys rock!

And in memory of our gentle giant friend, Wil Woodrowe. We think he would really have loved this year's IPO.

One final word about a bit of an unsung hero of the IPO, Jim the sound engineer, who was on the front stage for the entire week. He was able to get things set up in no time at all with his straight forward instructions to all the artists on stage. He was also the guy the other sound engineers came running to from the back stage when anything wasn't going according to plan. Big thanks for creating such a great sound (despite some of the bands!) on the front stage.

See you all next year!